Walkability Fail

Walkability Fail on the Wellington Street Freeway

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published March 19, 2010

One of the most egregious walkability failures I've found is the Wellington "on ramp" south of Main Street.

Not only is it a high-speed one-way freeway style on-ramp cutting through a high density mixed commercial residential neighbourhood, but also there are no safe crossing points for hundreds of metres.

The City has even erected chainlink fences to physically stop people trying to walk through their own neighbourhood (or access the bits of highway island greenspace).

What's more, Wellington is far under-capacity for most of the day, which means cars are moving well over the 50km/h limit - and are certainly not on the lookout for "jaywalking" pedestrians.

Worst of all, Wellington forks into the Claremont access, on which the chainlink fences and design are literally those of a freeway on-ramp.

Neighbouring Victoria street south of Main is not much better.

I often walk or cycle from my house near Charlton and Hess to the Canadian tire at Victoria and Main, and am constantly amazed at the breathtaking lack of concern for residents and pedestrians shown by this road configuration - especially in a neighbourhood where most people walk or cycle to get where they're going.

Note the various amenities that would (normally) attract foot traffic: the Canadian Tire, Youth Employment Centre, Hamilton Help Centre, Dawn Patrol Child and Youth services, Universal Retirement Lodge, the Pentecostal Church, Tim Hortons, First Place Seniors residence, the Park between Stinson and Young St, and Victoria Manor I & II.

The arrogance of this design is truly breathtaking, and makes getting safely and conveniently to and from these destinations on bike or by foot a challenge (especially if one is 8 years old, or 80 years old, as many residents are).

The message is clearly: your convenience and safety don't matter, and we're going to make this is obvious as we can!

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.

9 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By Freeway merge (anonymous) | Posted March 19, 2010 at 17:45:16

What's with all the freeway ramps in Hamilton neighbourhoods?? The high rollers at Aberdeen and bay got rid of one a few years ago, but the others exist. It's staggering when you start to compile a list of urban locations with freeway ramps such as this one on Wellington.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted March 19, 2010 at 17:59:55

Finding and getting to the Youth Employment Centre even in a car is pretty difficult. It's hidden from plain sight because of the ramp, for one thing, and because of all the one-way streets in that neighbourhood you need to know exactly where to turn and when. Good luck to you if you're new to the city...

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted March 19, 2010 at 19:13:42

Possibly the only good point is that it dead-ends my street ;) but other than that, it's terrible. I cross Wellington in the early morning near the ramp, and that's a terrifying gamble even with little traffic on the road.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Ancient Warrior (anonymous) | Posted March 19, 2010 at 19:33:42

Look at it a different way: We train really resilient survivalist people in Hamilton by our street system. If you learn to walk, bike, or drive in Hamilton, you can survive in any city in the world. Isn't that a positive aspect?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted March 19, 2010 at 21:40:58

What's even worse than Wellington is the ramp at Victoria a few blocks away. The whole highway interchange turns the community into something almost reminiscent of a demilitarized zone. I may live by Barton St. (and love it - old Portuguese folk make great neighbours), but after a dozen of my friends got robbed at knifepoint by a pair of crackheads in a home invasion right by the Victoria St. ramp, I definitely wouldn't live there. It's such a beautiful neighbourhood otherwise, too. One wonders how nice it could work if they simply let those neighbourhood kids put murals up on the big ugly concrete ramp, instead of the endless cycle of painting and tagging that goes on there now.

We need urban highways, though. Otherwise people might take the bus. And at least the Wellington/Victoria don't have any major social services/housing, skyscraping seniors housing or major hospitals along them...

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted March 20, 2010 at 09:35:06

but after a dozen of my friends got robbed at knifepoint by a pair of crackheads in a home invasion right by the Victoria St. ramp, I definitely wouldn't live there

I remember when we were looking to buy here, we saw an absolutely gorgeous large house in that area, and the size was a little more suited to our bunch than the house we ultimately bought. However, the house needed a lot of work-- no one had been paying any attention to it-- and the neighbourhood was even rougher than the one we had left in Toronto, so we turned our attentions to the other side of Gage Park instead.

One wonders how nice it could work if they simply let those neighbourhood kids put murals up on the big ugly concrete ramp, instead of the endless cycle of painting and tagging that goes on there now.

Anyone remember that combox discussion way back about establishing an informal art show for young artists-- maybe this would be a place. Only there'd probably have to be occasional road closures to give the public a chance to walk around and enjoy it...

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Rod (anonymous) | Posted March 20, 2010 at 11:42:19

Repeating the obvious, but (as one who was familiar with that area when living in Hamilton not too long ago) its just another example of a 'cars first' mentality that has despoiled so many cities, including Hamilton, starting in the 1950s. Of course, Hamilton is pretty bad in many ways - chain link fencing to prevent easy pedestrian access across streets and to other parts of neighbourhoods is not in the least impressive - but one can always find worse examples, like Detroit.

But, in my view, nothing beats that overhead stretch of Burlington for sheer ugliness and pedestrian-unfriendly planning in Hamilton. Even the 403 at least has stretches of grass and shrubbery along it.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted March 20, 2010 at 13:36:18

Only there'd probably have to be occasional road closures to give the public a chance to walk around and enjoy it...

And in Hamilton, thats where your idea dies.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By pedestrian 101 (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2010 at 16:45:07

Slightly off topic - I was planning to go to a meeting at the Hamilton Beach Rescue Unit (on Beach Blvd) Sunday evening. Since the bus only runs about every 45 mins in the late evening, I thought that if I miss the #11 bus I could simply walk along Beach and then along Woodward to Barton to catch the Barton bus. Nothing simple about it! I quickly changed my mind about walking when I mapped Woodward St, between Eastport Dr and Burlington St with Google maps. There's a sidewalk along only side of Woodward which disappears when you have to cross a lane of highway-like traffic to get to the median so you can continue walking along Woodward. The sidewalk resumes several meters after the stoplights. Highly unsafe to be walking this area during the day, much less in the evening. My suggestion to city hall street planners is to have a person on staff who does not get around by car.

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds